What Are You Willing To Do?

Posted on by Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA


Welcome to CDC OMHHE’s New Blog: Conversations In Equity! In this 1st Blog Post, Dr. Leandris C. Liburd, Director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE) explains what she does.

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, Director, CDC OMHHE
Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, Director, CDC OMHHE

An awkward pause often precedes my response to the question “So, what do you do?” Describing in plain language what we do to address health disparities and reduce the high burden of preventable disease and premature death experienced by communities of color and other population groups is rarely a quick response.

Helping people understand why these disparities persist, sharing effective public health approaches for reducing this burden, and showing how what we do in CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) ultimately impacts health outcomes in communities is often challenging and never achieved in the time it takes an elevator door to close.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first established our Office of Minority Health in 1988 through the advocacy of minority scientists and public health practitioners and the support of then agency director, Dr. James Mason.  Since its inception, our office has championed a number of initiatives and collaborations that have helped to institutionalize a focus on minority health, eliminating health disparities, and more recently, achieving health equity.

Our mission –to accelerate the work of CDC and our partners in improving health by eliminating health disparities, promoting conditions conducive to health, and achieving health equity– is long-term, cross-cutting, and dynamic. I, along with my colleagues in OMHHE, maintain a strong conviction that there is no more important component of public health than eliminating preventable health disparities and pursuing health equity.

We work closely with CDC’s national centers, institutes and offices to:

National and Global
1. Promote the dissemination and scaling up of evidence-based interventions and other population-based strategies that reduce and eliminate health disparities,

2. Advance the science and practice of health equity,

3. Build national and global partnerships to address health inequalities, and

4. Ensure federal policy initiatives in support of health equity, such as Healthy People 2020, the National Partnership for Action, and the National Prevention Strategy, are integrated into CDC programs.

So, why the pause when I start to talk about what I do? Well, people who live in communities with a high burden of disease see and experience every day what we take great care to describe in our surveillance reports. So, I don’t need to talk about the burden with them. There are others who don’t live in these communities, who aren’t aware of health disparities, who become interested in these problems and their root causes once we’ve had a dialogue.

Health Equity

There is sometimes a real disconnect between the prevention work of public health and the day-to-day experiences of ordinary people. In other words, a good day in public health is when the spread of any disease or risk factor is prevented; and people typically don’t recognize or necessarily value something that never happened. Imagine our efforts in communities being so successful that health equity is the norm! It will take all of us working together to make this a reality. What are you willing to do?

This Blog entry is Cross Posted on the HHS OMH NPA Blog

Posted on by Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

17 comments on “What Are You Willing To Do?”

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    Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!

    I’m so excited not only for CDC, but for Minority Health. I think this is an amazing idea and opportunity for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equality to shine, and share with the world all that is being done by the CDC to address Minority Health. This will also allow people and students to become more aware of the CDC, and the tremendous work we are doing in these efforts. I believe once you see the popularity of this blog and newsletter, there will be a need to get guess blogger to come in so the blog can happen on a weekly basis rather than a quarterly basis – In my humble opinion. Outstanding job Dr. Liburd!

    Great issue…as to your question about am I willing to do? Right now I am going to get back to working on this grant with my community partners so that we can address these challenges that you speak about in your newsletter. Wish us luck!

    I’m so glad that the CDC is making health inequities a priority. I work with older minority adults who have Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia and I see a lot of disparities in the quality of care they receive in their communities. So much so that I try to do research online to come up with tips or resources because my clients don’t have adequate health care or insurance.

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    Wow! one of the most useful blogs we have arrived across on this subject. Basically Wonderful. I’m also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

    the way you keep emphasis on health equity must be appreciated and what you said is correct. Your work will only reach the public unless and until you can prevent a infection or spread of a particular disease. Keep up tour good work.

    I appreciate it very much, looking forward to another great article. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with me. Good luck to the author! all the best!

    We are in the early stages of bringing Health Equity to the `community table’ through several community partnerships and initiatives.
    Thank you CDC and Dr.Liburd for your leadership in this vital area – I have hope for the future!

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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Page last updated: April 6, 2015